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On The Train Gillian Clarke. On The Train Cradled through England between flooded fields rocking, rocking the rails, my head-phones on, the black box.

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Presentation on theme: "On The Train Gillian Clarke. On The Train Cradled through England between flooded fields rocking, rocking the rails, my head-phones on, the black box."— Presentation transcript:

1 On The Train Gillian Clarke

2 On The Train Cradled through England between flooded fields rocking, rocking the rails, my head-phones on, the black box of my Walkman on the table. Hot tea trembles in its plastic cup. I'm thinking of you waking in our bed thinking of me on the train. Too soon to phone. The radio speaks in the suburbs, in commuter towns, in cars unloading children at school gates, is silenced in dark parkways down the line before locks click and footprints track the frost and trains slide out of stations in the dawn dreaming their way towards the blazing bone-ship.

3 The vodaphone you are calling may have been switched off. Please call later. And calling later, calling later their phones ring in the rubble and in the rubble of suburban kitchens the wolves howl into silent telephones. I phone. No answer. Where are you now? The train moves homeward through the morning Tonight I'll be home safe, but talk to me, please. Pick up the phone. Today I'm tolerant of mobiles. Let them say it. I'll say it too. Darling, I'm on the train. Gillian Clarke

4 Cradled through England between flooded fields rocking, rocking the rails, my head-phones on, the black box of my Walkman on the table. Hot tea trembles in its plastic cup. I'm thinking of you waking in our bed thinking of me on the train. Too soon to phone. safe Repetition- movement of train Emphasised by _____ Like a plane- records movements fear Repetition- united in their thoughts Too early, wants to call home- missing him? Husband- shared life- intimate

5 The radio speaks in the suburbs, in commuter towns, in cars unloading children at school gates, is silenced in dark parkways down the line before locks click and footprints track the frost and trains slide out of stations in the dawn dreaming their way towards the blazing bone-ship. personification Around London, where the train was Ominous/ fear By people dying ; also getting out of cars at schools Station; also the train on fire Personifies the trains

6 The vodaphone you are calling may have been switched off. Please call later. And calling later, calling later their phones ring in the rubble and in the rubble of suburban kitchens the wolves howl into silent telephones. Recorded message- normal experience. Ominous here. Destroyed by tragedy Repeated- desperation Of the crash Desperate, animalistic because of grief Because they aren’t there to answer

7 I phone. No answer. Where are you now? The train moves homeward through the morning Tonight I'll be home safe, but talk to me, please. Pick up the phone. Today I'm tolerant of mobiles. Let them say it. I'll say it too. Darling, I'm on the train. Short sentences- anxious Questions- worried desperate Normally annoyed Ordinary/ cliched phrase has more meaning as it means she is safe

8 On the surface, we have the poet's thoughts of another person ("you") as she sits on a train, far from home. Behind this we glimpse another story, of a disaster, a news report to which the poet is listening on a radio. There is no specific reference in the poem to the particular event which the poet recalls, but she has said (on her Web site) that it was the Paddington Rail crash, which happened in October of At the time she was travelling home from Manchester to Wales, not (as she would often do) from Paddington - she wants to share with the "you" the feeling one has on hearing bad news in the media (the poem may be autobiographical, and the second person pronoun appears to refer to her husband - but because this is not specified it has a wider relevance to the reader).

9 Commenting on the poem's being more than merely topical, the poet adds: "I've thought about adding Paddington, but there's Hatfield, and so on, and all that matters is that it's a train crash. It is my 11th of September poem - disasters which unite us emotionally because of the difference the media has made to our consciousness of what's happening in the world." The account of the disaster is suggested by a series of images: the "black box", the "blazing boneship", "rubble" and "wolves". The central image in the poem, potentially the most puzzling, but the one that reveals the poet's own imagining of the disaster, is "the blazing boneship" - the burning rail coach in which an unknown number of passengers died. Gillian Clarke says that she was thinking of the funeral ships which the Celts once would push out to sea, bearing the bodies of their heroes. Her wish was, she says, to suggest something "noble, heroic, tragic" because the real people grieving deserved "the dignity of the noblest image" she could conjure.

10 The poet imagines the activity of a new day: radios playing, children being dropped off "at school gates", doors closing "as locks click", footprints on the frost (the first steps on it since it has formed), and trains "in the dawn" taking people "dreaming" to work - perhaps unaware that they are heading towards the blazing coach. The poet makes a call but the (mobile) phone she is ringing is turned off. She is advised to call later. She imagines how, later, other people will make calls to phones that will ring but not be answered - suggesting the disaster that has struck their owners. She phones again and again there is no answer. The poem ends with a plea "pick up the phone" and an admission that today the poet is "tolerant of mobiles". She knows it is a cliché, but today it is the best thing to say, as it will bring reassurance: "Darling, I'm on the train." The poem is in six-line stanzas. The lines vary in length but are in the iambic metre - we have lines of five (pentameter), four or three feet (like the final line). The poet drops the metre at one point, as she quotes the message from the mobile phone company.


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